To nudge Iran talks, new UN resolution needed
UN Security Council resolutions that Iran must stop 'all' enrichment activities are outmoded, unrealistic, and hurt the Iran talks. A new resolution should promise to lift sanctions if the parties reach a reasonable agreement on Iran's nuclear program.
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In other words, because of these legal strictures, the P5+1 goes to the negotiation table without having the capacity to offer its counterpart any positive incentive, something that most negotiators would find a handicap rather than a leverage to their advantage.Skip to next paragraph
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Of course, despite these legal restrictions, various international actors have occasionally been able to offer promising deals to Iran. For example, in May 2010, Brazil and Turkey persuaded Tehran to ship 1200 kg (2640 pounds) of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey (as a confidence-building measure) based on a proposal that was initially drafted by the Obama administration. However, the United States itself subsequently blocked the bargain on the ground that it still did not meet the restrictive demands of the Security Council.
“While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20 percent enrichment, which is a direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” the White House said in a statement.
In sum, despite the fact that the UN Charter mandates the world body to encourage and facilitate peaceful settlements of international disputes, it seems that in the case of Iran’s nuclear crisis, the Security Council has had the exact opposite effect.
The way out of this conundrum is for the Security Council to issue a new resolution. The resolution would do two things: It would explicitly acknowledge whatever achievement the P5+1 track has so far produced. And it would promise to lift its sanctions if the parties reach a “reasonable agreement” – notwithstanding previous resolutions.
Such a move by the Security Council would greatly help to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem in a peaceful manner. It would give Iran the long-awaited assurance that its cooperation would be met with some degree of reciprocation. And it would free Western negotiators from the burden of having to work within the unrealistic and outdated UN strictures on enrichment.
It remains to be seen which member of the Security Council is bold enough to propose such a draft resolution.
Reza Nasri is an international lawyer specializing in Iranian affairs and charter and foreign relations law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.